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 English Horn bocal resitance
Author: mberkowski 
Date:   2017-03-18 20:46

Hi all,

I recently came to own a 1970's Loree English horn, and it's the first time I'm playing one since I was a university student almost 20 years ago. Back then I thought very little about bocals because the instrument I was provided had just 2 Loree choices and one was pitched too high for most use.

The instrument I bought came to me with Loree #1 & #2, and what I believe is a Dallas #7, gold. For my purposes, the Loree #2 and the Dallas #7 both have good intonation and a big resonant sound, but I prefer the middle range tone on the Dallas.

My issue is that when playing on the Dallas, I find myself out of breath and winded all the time. It seems to impart a great deal of resistance my lungs just aren't up to yet. The same reeds on the Loree are easy blowing. I notice that the curve on the Dallas is a shallower (less bent) than the Loree, but a little sharper in angle.

What approach should I be taking with this? Do you think I should try to make reeds which are less resistant overall and therefore easier on the Dallas? I've tried thinning some of my reeds on hand down but not really noticed much difference on the Dallas, so I wonder if this is a losing tactic. Should I just play on it more to build up my tolerance for it? Is it possible this is a mechanical issue, like an insufficient seal between staples (Glotin, silver) and bocal? A mismatch with those staples? Or is this something else entirely, not due to bocal choice? The instrument is in good repair.

I appreciate your input as always.


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 Re: English Horn bocal resitance
Author: heckelmaniac 
Date:   2017-03-20 03:12

Likely best simply to set the Dallas bocal aside. It may not be a "bad" bocal, just simply not a good match for your specific English horn. You should not have to fight your instrument in order to play it.
I suggest that you may wish to try a Hiniker #2B 13 (largest bore of the standard Hiniker bocals), or #2B 12.5, or #2B 12. At times, it is simply amazing what a huge help a first rate bocal can be to an instrument...


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 Re: English Horn bocal resitance
Author: mberkowski 
Date:   2017-03-21 03:39

Thanks for the input. I've just read Carolyn Hove's page on bocals to find she does identify resistance among a bocal's "variables." I plan to spend some time closely examining the differences between the Dallas and Loree #2 (at least the obvious macroscopic differences). I think I have a lot to learn about the topic.


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 Re: English Horn bocal resitance
Author: mberkowski 
Date:   2017-10-15 01:07

I'm returning to this with an update half a year later...

I'd been barely able to play on the Dallas 7 bocal and did put it aside as Peter suggested. A few weeks ago I had my English horn in to a repair tech for a general tune-up and after being professionally adjusted I now find that I have no problems playing on the Dallas bocal. Whatever had been out of sorts with the instrument's regulation was not having a serious or even noticeable effect with the Loree bocals but made things very difficult with the Dallas.

So now I'll spend some time adjusting myself the to Dallas. Its projection is superior and it plays up to 3rd octave F# without sagging. I have a Quiet City performance coming up and this bocal feels like discovering a superpower against the trumpet. I couldn't be happier.


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